How Long Do Small Small Dogs Live?

When it comes to our furry friends, have you ever wondered why small dogs seem to stick around longer than their larger counterparts?

It's not just your imagination - science has proven that smaller breeds tend to outlive the big guys, sometimes by several years! If you're considering adding a pint-sized pup to your family, you'll want to know which breeds have the longest lifespans.

Let's dive into the fascinating world of small dog longevity and explore the top 10 longest-living small breeds.

Related post: The 15 Most Popular Small Dog Breeds in America



The Science Behind Small Dog Longevity

So, why do small dogs live longer than large dogs? It all comes down to a few key factors:

Accelerated Aging in Larger Dogs

As dogs get larger, their physiological processes and aging seem to speed up. This means that bigger breeds tend to develop age-related diseases and conditions like cancer at a younger age compared to their smaller counterparts.

Evolutionary Trade-offs

The "disposable soma" theory suggests that larger dogs invest more energy into rapid growth and reproduction early in life, at the expense of investing in long-term maintenance and cancer defenses. This evolutionary trade-off results in larger dogs having shorter lifespans compared to smaller dogs that invest more resources into longevity.

Selective Breeding Effects

Over time, humans have rapidly bred dogs for larger sizes. Unfortunately, this selective breeding has outpaced the evolution of their cancer defenses and longevity mechanisms. This "evolutionary lag" makes larger dog breeds more susceptible to cancer and other age-related diseases that shorten their lifespan.

Other Factors

Larger dogs also tend to have larger litters, which may further contribute to their shorter lifespans. Additionally, lifestyle factors like increased risk of accidents and injuries in more active, working large dog breeds can also impact their lifespan.

Top 10 Longest-Living Small Dog Breeds

Now that we understand why small dogs tend to live longer, let's take a look at the top 10 small breeds with the longest lifespans:

Breed Average Lifespan
Chihuahua 14-16 years
Shih Tzu 10-18 years
Yorkshire Terrier 11-15 years
Bichon Frise 14-15 years
Dachshund 12-14 years
Miniature Pinscher 12 -16 years
Toy Poodle 12 -15 years
Whippet 12 -15 years
Miniature Dachshund 12 -16 years
Italian Greyhound 12 -15 years

Champions of Longevity


The diminutive Chihuahua tops the list as one of the longest-living breeds. Their tiny size and minimal exercise needs are key contributors to their extraordinary lifespan potential.


Shih Tzu

With their friendly, obedient nature and minimal exercise needs, Shih Tzus can live anywhere from 10-16 years on average. Their small stature gives this ancient breed an enduring quality.


Yorkshire Terrier

Don't let their dainty appearance fool you - Yorkshire Terriers are tough little pups known to live between 11-15 years on average. Their small stature gives them an edge over larger breeds.


Bichon Frise

The cheerful, cuddly Bichon Frise has an average lifespan of 14-15 years. Their compact size, hypoallergenic coat, and reduced exercise needs allow many to reach their mid-teens.



Dachshunds frequently defy expectations by living well into their late teens. In fact, one remarkable dachshund named Chanel set the Guinness World Record for the oldest of her breed, passing away at a stunning 21 years old!


Miniature Pinscher

The spunky "King of the Toys," the Miniature Pinscher is known for living up to an impressive 16 years. Their tiny size contributes to their extraordinary longevity.


Toy Poodle

These perfectly portable pooches often live into their teens or even early twenties. Like many small breeds, their petite size and moderate exercise requirements allow Toy Poodles to enjoy lengthy lives.


While not as tiny as some others on this list, Whippets have an average lifespan of 13.3 years - quite long for their size. Their gentle energy levels are well-suited to apartment living.



Miniature Dachshund

The fun-sized version of the standard dachshund, Mini Dachshunds have an average lifespan of 13.3 years. Their small stature gives them an edge in longevity.


Italian Greyhound

Elegant and deer-like, Italian Greyhounds may look delicate but they typically reach the median lifespan of 13.3 years for their size category.


Long Life in a Tiny Package

The mighty Chihuahua reigns supreme when it comes to longevity among small breeds. Many of these pint-sized pups survive past 15 years, with some remarkable individuals living an astonishing 18-20 years! Dachshunds are also known for their lengthy lives, with many wiener dogs over 15 years old.

A recent study found that small, long-nosed female dogs tend to live the longest overall, reaching a median lifespan of 13.3 years. The research also showed that across the board, small breeds generally outlive larger dogs by about a year, with an average lifespan of 12.7 years compared to 11.9 years for their bigger cousins.

Maximizing Your Small Dog's Lifespan

While genetics play a significant role, there are several things pet parents can do to help their small dog live a long, healthy life:

  • Provide a high-quality, portion-controlled diet to maintain an ideal weight
  • Engage them in daily exercise with walks and playtime
  • Practice good dental care with regular brushing
  • Keep up with annual wellness exams and preventive care
  • Create a safe home environment free of hazards

With their portable size and lower energy needs, small dogs make wonderful companions for all kinds of owners. And with the proper care, many of these pint-sized pups will be bringing joy to their families for well over a decade! Maximize your small dog's chances at a long, happy life by choosing one of these naturally long-lived breeds.

Related post: Small Dogs That Don't Shed: The Perfect Companions for a Fur-Free Home 



Small dogs have many advantages, and their potential for an extraordinarily long lifespan is certainly one of the most appealing. From the tiny but tenacious Chihuahua to the regal Italian Greyhound, the breeds highlighted in this article routinely reach their teen years and sometimes even their early twenties with proper care. By choosing one of these naturally long-lived small breeds and providing them with a high-quality diet, regular exercise, preventive veterinary care, and a safe environment, dog owners can maximize the chances of enjoying the loving companionship of their petite pup for well over a decade. While no dog's lifespan is guaranteed, giving a small breed the care they need is an investment that allows families to spend more cherished years with their four-legged friends.

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